Rewatching Quantum Leap – Episode 17

Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Dr. Sam Beckett stepped into the quantum leap accelerator and vanished. He awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own, and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so, Dr. Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that his next leap will be the leap home.


  • Trigger Warning: This episode features the word retard numerous times in a derogatory manner as some characters interact with Sam as Jimmy, a young man with Down Syndrome. While I may also utilize this word at times throughout this synopsis, please understand that this is not a term I find acceptable and would not personally use it as a descriptor of anyone with any sort of mental impairment or disability.
  • I don’t think I pointed out at the end of last week’s episode… When it was time for Sam to leap, Al asked him, “Now?” Sam replied, “Now…” just before leaping.
  • That’s probably something important to remember as this series progresses.
  • Sam leaps into someone we can assume is a kid based on the Bullwinkle t-shirt and slippers.
  • Also with the fact that another kid “shoots” him with a toy gun and he plays out a quick death scene to impress the other kid.
  • Someone we assume is the father of the household comes in and tells Sam to put his boots on and get ready because he had to pull some strings to get him this interview.
  • Then he gives Sam a quick bit of advice that, if the supervisor asks, he’s not retarded, just a little slow.
  • This is when Sam looks in the mirror and sees that he has leapt into a man with Down Syndrome.
  • October 14, 1964
  • In the kitchen, Frank is optimistic about Jimmy (Sam) and his chances of getting this job, saying that his doctor thinks Jimmy is ready.
  • His wife, Connie, isn’t so optimistic and seems a little resentful that Jimmy is staying with them and has been for the last two weeks.
  • Connie is concerned for their son, Corey, and how Jimmy might influence him.
  • Frank heads out to start up the truck while Sam finishes eating breakfast.
  • Sam accidentally drops a glass of milk and offers to clean it up but Connie angrily just tells him to go.
  • Al arrives in time to meet Sam outside.
  • Sam is concerned, telling Al that he’s retarded.
  • Al tells him that Jimmy has the IQ of the average 12-year-old and Sam isn’t sure how he’s supposed to act.
  • Then Al says to act natural, not as an insult, but to point out that a 12-year-old is pretty high functioning.
  • Unfortunately, Connie notices Sam talking to himself…
  • Al says Sam is probably there to make sure Jimmy is mainstreamed because, in those days, most individuals in Jimmy’s shoes found themselves institutionalized.
  • Since Sam already knows that Jimmy was recently released from an institution, he could already be in trouble.
  • Frank and Sam arrive at the pier where Frank works and another dock worker immediately starts making fun of Jimmy.
  • Frank nearly moves to fight back but Sam stops him.
  • Heading to the interview with Mr. Samuels, the dock supervisor, Frank gives Sam a lot of advice.
  • Samuels isn’t sure about hiring Jimmy and starts speaking loudly and slowly to him.
  • Sam points out that he’s slow, not deaf.
  • Mr. Samuels warns him that the dock is a fast moving place and it might not be safe for someone like Jimmy.
  • But Sam convinces him that even though he can’t change his IQ, he can do the work required.
  • So Jimmy gets the job.
  • Al comes back as Sam is working and trying to make some friends on the docks and tells Sam that’s what he’s here to do.
  • It’s not enough to get the job, Jimmy has to keep it, which means that Sam has to get his coworkers to accept him as one of them.
  • Everything is going fine until the jerk from earlier crashes into Sam’s cart with a forklift and warns him to watch where he’s going before driving off.
  • Sam and Frank have lunch together and Frank asks how his first day’s going.
  • They then talk about their father and how hard it was for him to put Jimmy into the institution when he did.
  • Frank insists that Jimmy’s never going back to the institution, then tells him not to worry about Connie.
  • Sam accidentally knocks Frank’s thermos into the harbor and Frank sadly says that Connie gave that to him for Christmas, but then he says it’s okay.
  • Later, back on the job, Sam is picked on even more and then Blue (the jerk) picks a fight with him, shoving and even hitting him.
  • But Sam fights back.
  • Frank arrives in time to break it up.
  • When it’s time to clock out, Sam insists that he can punch his card when Frank wants to do it for him, and Sam accidentally tears it.
  • Sam seems to be having a lot of accidents…
  • Back at home, Frank sends Sam out to play in the yard with Corey while he spends some alone time with Connie.
  • But then when another kid in the neighborhood starts making fun of Corey for playing with Jimmy, Corey starts to fight the bully.
  • When Sam tries to break it up, the bully’s mother comes out and claims that Jimmy hit her son.
  • Then Frank comes out and sends Sam and Corey back inside.
  • Connie blames Jimmy for what happened and Frank tries to defend him, but she’s not having it.
  • Later, Sam tries helping Frank wash his truck, but he’s constantly feeling like he can’t do anything right.
  • Al arrives while Sam is setting the table.
  • It startles him and he almost drops a plate.
  • Then, as he’s grabbing a glass platter to put on the table, Connie comes into the room and the door hits Sam, causing him to drop and break the platter.
  • Her grandmother’s platter…
  • Sam goes outside and tells Al that this isn’t working out.
  • But Al tells him it has to work, then he tells her about his sister.
  • Turns out, Al’s sister had Down Syndrome and was institutionalized when they became orphans.
  • By the time Al was old enough to take care of his sister, he went to get her but she had died of pneumonia in 1953 at the age of 16.
  • That can’t happen to Jimmy.
  • Before going to bed, Corey and Sam talk about why people are mean to him all the time.
  • Sam explains that people are just afraid of what’s different.
  • At work the next day, Mr. Samuels praises Sam for doing a good job.
  • Then he calls Blue over to get a palette labeled 1675… but Blue gets the one labeled 7516.
  • When Sam tries to warn him that he got the wrong one, Mr. Samuels points out the right one.
  • Blue is embarrassed and then purposely crashes his forklift, blaming Jimmy for leaving solvent all over the floor.
  • He makes a big scene and Mr. Samuels decides he has to fire Jimmy and Frank says, “If you fire him you fire me, too.”
  • Sam tries to explain to Mr. Samuels and to Frank that this was not a mistake that he made… but no one will listen.
  • Frank is too angry… then they go home.
  • Connie tells Frank it’s time for Jimmy to go back to the institution because this is not working out.
  • Sam helps Corey fix his bike and then Frank comes back around to tell him that he’ll have to go back to Wayside for just a little while so he can get a new job and get in tight with his next boss, then he’ll come back for him again.
  • But Al knows that once Jimmy’s in the institution this time, he’s not coming back out.
  • Sam swipes Frank’s keys and steals the truck, heading back to the dock so he can get their jobs back.
  • Corey rides his bike, following Sam so he can watch what happens.
  • Sam tells Mr. Samuels that Blue’s the one who turned on the spigot that left the solvent all over the floor.
  • It’s because Sam figured out Blue’s secret… he’s dyslexic.
  • Mr. Samuels realizes that Sam is telling the truth and rehires Jimmy and Frank, then he fires Blue.
  • In his rage, Blue tries to run over Sam with his forklift, but knocks over a stack of crates where and Corey falls into the harbor.
  • Frank and Connie get there just in time to see it happen and Frank dives in after his son.
  • They pull Corey out but he’s not breathing.
  • Sam knows CPR… but, as Jimmy, claims it’s something they taught him at the institution.
  • Sam saves Corey… in everyone else’s eyes, Jimmy saves the kid.
  • This gains Jimmy acceptance with Connie and all the other guys at the dock.
  • Sam leaps into a courtroom… he’s an attorney representing a young black woman accused of murder and he has to submit his client’s plea: guilty or not guilty.
  • Oh boy.

4 thoughts on “Rewatching Quantum Leap – Episode 17

    • Early on in the first couple seasons, he only occasionally said it or would say it getting into the episode. Eventually it became almost a catchphrase for Sam, as he would leap into a life and find himself in a pickle and exclaim, “Oh boy!” It changed every now and then, too, as there was an episode where he leapt into a death row inmate who was about to be electrocuted in the electric chair, which warranted an “Oh God!”


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